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NHSE drops tech target

NHS England has revealed it is no longer planning to meet a long-term plan maternity digitisation target, because of a change of approach.

Under the heading of “empowering people”, the 2019 long-term plan promised to extend digital access to maternity records to the whole country by 2023-24. This was in addition to digitising the so-called red book, which is used to track the health of babies and young children.

It followed a recommendation in the 2016 Better Births report, led by former health minister Baroness Julia Cumberlege and commissioned by NHS England. It was intended to reduce bureaucracy and improve safety, as well as provide parents with better information.

However, a paper prepared by chief nursing officer Ruth May for NHSE’s October board meeting said while the organisation “remains committed” to digitising the records, meeting the 2024 deadline would be a challenge due to “varying levels of digital maturity and change capacity across maternity services”.

In response, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists president Edward Morris told HSJ: “While we recognise the enormous pressures that maternity services are currently facing, we are disappointed that NHSE is no longer on track to meet the target to digitise maternity records by 2024.

“This programme of digitisation will help realise our ambition for more effective use of data collected during pregnancy, to help identify and prevent the future onset of disease and improve outcomes for women and their babies.

“If digital maternity records are to become part of the wider shift to electronic patient records, it is vital that this information is still accessible to both women and healthcare professionals as an important tool for shared decision making.”

Read full story (paywalled)

Source:  HSJ, 11 October 2022


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